Letters to a Lost Soldier - Memorial Day and the gift of a Bible


Dear Daddy,
(I originally wrote in May, 1945) General Mark Clark received an ovation when he landed at Midway Airport in Chicago on Memorial Day. He rode down Michigan Avenue with Mayor Daley in a 15-mile parade with military vehicles and marching bands. Four “Men in Blue,” veterans of the Civil War, also marched. Fifty Thunderbolt fighter planes flew overhead and the parade ended with a 17-gun salute. The noise was loud and scary. I’d like to see a parade with marching bands to honor schoolteachers.
General Clark had a chest full of medals for leading the Fifth Army to victory in Italy and he’s called the Liberator of Rome. We should also give medals to schoolteachers.
Memorial Day started after the Civil War as Decoration Day when people put flowers on the graves of fallen heroes. President Truman appointed Colonel Lowry to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. The President Proclaimed Memorial Day as a day of prayer for peace. That’s what we need – peace in the world and at home.
It is sad that many Americans died in combat and more are fighting in the Pacific. We thought about Cousins Raymond and Jordan who were killed serving our country. Why are men required to go to war and die? Why can’t people get along and live in peace? I don’t want to have sons when I grow up. I’ll only marry a man who’s finished serving in a war.
We found a notice in our mailbox at home about an item at the Post Office. I was afraid there was bad news. But it was a package for me from London with a little Bible inside measuring 3-1/2 by 5-1/2 inches and no more than one inch thick. The print is so tiny that no one in the family could read it but me.
The first page has large letters and the picture of a crown. It says,” A Message From His Majesty The King,” and is dated 15th September, 1939, two years after I was born. His message reads: “To all serving in my Forces by sea or land, or in the air, and indeed, to all my people engaged in the defence of the Realm, I commend the reading of this book. For centuries the Bible has been a wholesome and strengthening influence in our national life, and it behoves us in these momentous days to turn with renewed faith to this Divine source of comfort and inspiration.”
No note was enclosed. Did you or your friend send it from England? I’m lucky to get a bible printed by “The Naval and Military Bible Society (founded 1780) in Eccleston Hall, London, S.W.I.” Thank you! The bible is secondhand and I hope the person who originally owned it did not die. I wonder where this bible has travelled, from England to ? and then to me in Chicago. I’ll take good care of it.
My new (old) Bible has two maps in the back. One shows the “Journeyings of the Children of Israel,” and the other map labels areas as Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Persia, Babylonia, Media, etc., which we have not yet learned about in school. I wanted to read the bible from cover to cover but realized it would take a long time. I closed the book after reading the story of Cain and Abel. It was heartbreaking. I don’t understand why a man kills his brother, talks back to God and asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” What does that mean?
Mommy tells my sister to walk me to school and the movies and hold my hand when we cross the street. Can Mommy require her to be my keeper? That seems like a job for a parent, not an unwilling sister. Our troubles start when she disobeys.
I hope you can help me understand the Bible when you come home. Could I attend Sunday school? I want to talk with you about so much – how to have peace in the world and at home. See you soon!